The Olive Field

Appears in

Honey from a Weed

By Patience Gray

Published 1986

Like the pains of child-birth, one quickly forgets the olive-picking pains. In childbirth you are on your own, while in the olive field the ordeal is endured in good company. What you need ideally is short thighs and a long back. Adopting a martial attitude – like the bronze Zeus discovered at Ugento, now in the Taranto Museum – but bending from the hips and keeping the head permanently down, with an extraordinary rapidity you pick up the olives with both hands, the endless olives. The women are on the ground, the men are in the trees.